Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
Jeff Benoit, a man in our church who has a friend who served on President Elect Bush's campaign in Austin. She called him to tell this story. Last week,
Yes, my dear friend, we are living in the in times. How glorious to know that our new president is a man that doesn't feel the political pressure to glad-hand 1000 people, but would take
Origins: The piece quoted above began circulating on the Internet in the first week of January, 2001. In response to the oft-asked question of "But is it true?" we have to answer that it's a charming bit of folklore but it ain't gospel.
We never found anything to substantiate that the incident as described in the
- The Bush campaign held no formal "Thank you" banquet for their supporters because the prolonged controversy over the Florida vote kept much of the staff busy.
- A reception for volunteers was held at the Governor's mansion in Texas, but Governor Bush himself did not attend.
- As Governor of Texas (and then President-Elect), George W. Bush's time is usually rigidly managed, and he simply couldn't blow off a scheduled appearance with thousands of supporters to chat with a teenager for a full half hour.
He, in turn, put the question to the Bush people.
Here's his report back to me:
"No banquet, no story, never happened."
Bush is a Methodist and makes no bones about having reaffirmed his faith around the time he swore off liquor in 1986. That he is staunchly Christian, there can be no doubt. However, being a Christian
Tales that seek to highlight the sterling qualities of incoming Presidents provide ways for supporters to proclaim that their man is not like the bum leaving office, and thus are a time-honored tradition no matter who is on his way out and who is on his way in. It's their way of saying through lore and rumor that there is a new guy in town, and he's not like his
But the popularity of such stories reaches far beyond the need of a few handfuls of rabid supporters to beat their chests about the proven rightness of their cause: Such tales also work to reassure folks, both those who voted for the newcomer and those who didn't, that this new man is a decent sort of guy and that he will do right by the country. Especially in the aftermath of closely-contested elections, inspiring or humanizing stories about the incoming are welcome oil to pour onto troubled waters. Across the space of a few short weeks, a population which had recently and vehemently split itself into two warring camps has to again reconcile into one nation under the guidance of a President that some chose and some didn't. Part of that transition is coming to see the President-Elect as someone the country can look up to, and part of that process is good, old-fashioned storytelling.
In a general sense, that is what drives this
Were another about to go into the White House, we'd see a different set of stories keyed to that person's strengths, but we'd still be hearing positive stories about the President-Elect no matter who he was. It is the nature of lore to fit itself to whoever holds the spotlight of the moment, and the need for reassurance by story would assert itself no matter who the country had selected to stand in the glare.
Barbara "legends in the making" Mikkelson
Last updated: 22 February 2007
Bush, George W. A Charge to Keep. New York: William Morrow, 1999. ISBN 0-688-17441-8. Hollenbeck, Gail. "Pastors Ponder Religion's Role in Bush Presidency." St. Petersburg Times. 6 January 2001 (Religion, p. 3). Lawrence, Jill. "The Evolution of George W. Bush." USA Today. 28 July 2000 (p. A8). Murray, Joe. "Jesus and George W: What a Story." [Boulder] Sunday Camera. 14 January 2001 (p. E4).